John French, 1st Earl of Ypres
Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, KP, GCB, OM
Order of Merit
The Order of Merit is a British dynastic order recognising distinguished service in the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture...

Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 (28 September 1852 – 22 May 1925), known as The Viscount French between 1916 and 1922, was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Anglo-Irish
Anglo-Irish was a term used primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a privileged social class in Ireland, whose members were the descendants and successors of the Protestant Ascendancy, mostly belonging to the Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until...

 officer. He distinguished himself commanding British cavalry during the Second Boer War, then served as the first Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Early life

John French was born in Ripple
Ripple, Kent
Ripple is a village in Kent, England. It is also known as Ripple Vale. John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, the commander of the first British Expeditionary Force was born there in 1852, and is buried at the village church...

 in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 (where he is also buried), the son of Commander John French, an officer in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. His father died in 1854, and soon his fragile mother was confined to a mental home. In 1863 the family moved to London.

His sister was the suffragette
"Suffragette" is a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper as a derogatory label for members of the late 19th and early 20th century movement for women's suffrage in the United Kingdom, in particular members of the Women's Social and Political Union...

 and Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 member Charlotte Despard
Charlotte Despard
Charlotte Despard was a British-born, later Irish-based suffragist, novelist and Sinn Féin activist....

. She would remain highly critical of her brother throughout his career.

French joined the Navy in 1866. He attended the Eastman’s Naval Academy in Portsmouth. In 1869 he served as a midshipman on HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior (1860)
HMS Warrior was the first iron-hulled, armour-plated warship, built for the Royal Navy in response to the first ironclad warship, the French Gloire, launched a year earlier....

, where it was discovered that he was acrophobic. He transferred to the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 as a lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 in the 8th (King's Royal Irish) Hussars in 1874.


French took part in the Sudan expedition
Nile Expedition
The Nile Expedition, sometimes called the Gordon Relief Expedition , was a British mission to relieve Major-General Charles George Gordon at Khartoum, Sudan. Gordon had been sent to the Sudan to help Egyptians evacuate from Sudan after Britain decided to abandon the country in the face of a...

 in 1884–1885 and thereafter received quick promotion. He commanded the 19th Hussars in 1889–1893 and then was made Assistant Adjutant-General 1893–1897. In 1897, he received command of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, which he exchanged two years later for the 1st Cavalry Brigade, with which he took part in the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 1899–1902, notably commanding the troops that relieved the Siege of Kimberley
Siege of Kimberley
The Siege of Kimberley took place during the Second Boer War at Kimberley, Cape Colony , when Boer forces from the Orange Free State and the Transvaal besieged the diamond mining town. The Boers moved quickly to try to capture the British enclave when war broke out between the British and the two...

. He featured prominently too in the subsequent Battle of Paardeberg
Battle of Paardeberg
The Battle of Paardeberg or Perdeberg was a major battle during the Second Anglo-Boer War. It was fought near Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River in the Orange Free State near Kimberley....


After the war, he was Commander-in-Chief for Aldershot Command
Aldershot Command
-History:After the success of the Chobham Manoeuvres of 1853, a permanent training camp was established at Aldershot in 1854 on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief, Viscount Hardinge...

 1901–1907, after which tenure he was promoted to full general and made Inspector-General of the Army (1907–1912). In 1911 he was made an ADC General to H.M. the King.

From March 1912 to April 1914, he served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff but resigned following the Curragh Mutiny and was made again Inspector-General of the Army, in which post he was serving at the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


World War I

French was the natural choice as Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in August 1914.

A man of hot temper, he argued with the Cabinet against Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener and General Sir Douglas Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC, was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the War...

 that the BEF should be deployed in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, rather than Amiens
Amiens is a city and commune in northern France, north of Paris and south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy...

, where both Haig and Kitchener believed it would be well placed to deliver a vigorous counterattack once the route of German advance was known. Kitchener argued that the placement of the BEF at Mons would result in having to abandon its position and much of its supplies almost immediately, as the Belgian Army would be unable to hold its ground against the Germans; given the solid belief in fortresses at the time, it is not surprising that French and the British cabinet disagreed with Kitchener on this issue.

The Belgian fortresses at Liege soon fell and most of the remaining Belgian troops were soon besieged in Antwerp, opening up Belgium to the German advance. Sir John French, who could not speak French well, had a poor relationship with General Lanzerac, who commanded the French Fifth Army on his right - at an early meeting, asking whether the German advance guards spotted at Huy on the Meuse were crossing the river (a reasonable question, as a German crossing of the Meuse exposed the BEF to encirclement from the west), his inability to pronounce the name "Huy" caused Lanzerac to exclaim in exasperation that the Germans had probably gone there to fish. After the BEF's first battle at Mons
Battle of Mons
The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. At Mons, the British army attempted to hold the line of the...

, as Kitchener had predicted, it had to retreat from its position to avoid the danger of being flanked, both from the west and from the east, when the French position on its right failed.

Sir John began a retreat to the Marne which threatened to break the link with the French armies. French's instructions from Kitchener were that he was to cooperate with the French in repelling the German invasion, but not to take orders from them; but also to avoid undue losses or the risk of being attacked. He was increasingly indecisive; and more concerned with preserving his troops—even suggesting removing them behind the Loire or to the Channel Ports—than with aiding the French. Although the French commander-in-chief, Joffre, dealt tactfully with French, at this time Joffre sacked three of his own army commanders (including Lanzerac), ten corps commanders, and thirty-eight divisional commanders, and one historian writes that "one cannot help wonder" whether Sir John would have suffered the same fate had he reported directly to Joffre. Kitchener travelled to France for an emergency meeting with Sir John on 2 September 1914 to re-organise his thinking and direct him to take part in the counter-offensive at the First Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

. French was particularly upset by the fact that Kitchener arrived wearing his field marshal's uniform; he felt Kitchener was implying that he was French's superior and not simply a cabinet member, a fact he mentioned in a letter to Sir Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

. No one knows exactly what was said during the meeting, as neither man kept any record, but French became increasingly antagonistic towards Kitchener in the following months.

During the First Battle of Mons
Battle of Mons
The Battle of Mons was the first major action of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. At Mons, the British army attempted to hold the line of the...

, French issued a series of hasty orders to abandon positions and equipment, which were ignored by his subordinate in charge of the II Corps of the BEF, General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien
Horace Smith-Dorrien
General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien GCB, GCMG, DSO, ADC was a British soldier and commander of the British II Corps and Second Army of the BEF during World War I.-Early life and career:...

. Smith-Dorrien's II Corps instead mounted a vigorous defensive action at Le Cateau
Battle of Le Cateau
The Battle of Le Cateau was fought on 26 August 1914, after the British, French and Belgians retreated from the Battle of Mons and had set up defensive positions in a fighting withdrawal against the German advance at Le Cateau-Cambrésis....

, relieving the pressure and allowing the troops to re-organise, gather up their supplies, and make a fighting withdrawal. Smith-Dorrien also ignored other orders from French which he considered to be unrealistic. Smith-Dorrien was removed from command after advocating a tactical withdrawal away from German lines at Ypres
Second Battle of Ypres
The Second Battle of Ypres was the first time Germany used poison gas on a large scale on the Western Front in the First World War and the first time a former colonial force pushed back a major European power on European soil, which occurred in the battle of St...

, following the first use of poison gas by German troops. Several days after this, French accepted the advice of General Plumer
Herbert Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer
Field Marshal Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, 1st Viscount Plumer, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE was a British colonial official and soldier born in Torquay who commanded the British Second Army in World War I and later served as High Commissioner of the British Mandate for Palestine.-Military...

 to perform a withdrawal almost identical to the one Smith-Dorrien had recommended.

In January 1915, French, with the concurrence of senior commanders (e.g. Haig), wanted New Armies incorporated into existing divisions as battalions rather than sent out as entire divisions. He took the step of appealing to the Prime Minister, Asquith, over Kitchener’s head, but Asquith refused to overrule Kitchener. This was a further factor in the deterioration of relations between French and Kitchener. However, French felt that the war would be over by the summer, as Germany had recently redeployed some divisions to the east. This did not happen, and New Army divisions first saw action at Loos in September 1915.

French remained in command as major trenching began, and oversaw the fighting at Neuve Chapelle
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
The Battles of Neuve Chapelle and Artois was a battle in the First World War. It was a British offensive in the Artois region and broke through at Neuve-Chapelle but they were unable to exploit the advantage.The battle began on 10 March 1915...

 and Ypres
First Battle of Ypres
The First Battle of Ypres, also called the First Battle of Flanders , was a First World War battle fought for the strategic town of Ypres in western Belgium...

 that finally destroyed the last of the original BEF. In 1915, he declined to co-operate with the French, and after the failures at Aubers Ridge
Battle of Aubers Ridge
The Battle of Aubers Ridge was a British offensive mounted on the Western Front in 1915 during World War I.- Background :The battle was the initial British component of the combined Anglo-French offensive known as the Second Battle of Artois...

 and Loos
Battle of Loos
The Battle of Loos was one of the major British offensives mounted on the Western Front in 1915 during World War I. It marked the first time the British used poison gas during the war, and is also famous for the fact that it witnessed the first large-scale use of 'new' or Kitchener's Army...

, British offensive operations were almost halted. In December 1915, he was replaced by General Sir Douglas Haig.

French returned to England to be appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Home Forces in December 1915, and oversaw the suppression of the Irish uprising in 1916
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

. In January 1916, he was created Viscount French, of Ypres and of High Lake in the County of Roscommon.

At the beginning of the First World War a supporter of French, A.C. Ainger, tried, with little success, to popularize a marching song in honour of French. The words read:
"Do you ken John French with his khaki suit
His belt and gaiters and stout brown boot
Along with his guns and his horse and his foot
On the road to Berlin in the morning."

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland

In May 1918, French was appointed British Viceroy
A viceroy is a royal official who runs a country, colony, or province in the name of and as representative of the monarch. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning king. A viceroy's province or larger territory is called a viceroyalty...

, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was the British King's representative and head of the Irish executive during the Lordship of Ireland , the Kingdom of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

, and Supreme Commander of the British Army in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...


Ashtown ambush

On 19 December 1919, an Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 unit which consisted of 11 volunteers
Volunteer (Irish republican)
Volunteer, often abbreviated Vol., is a term used by a number of Irish republican paramilitary organisations to describe their members. Among these have been the various forms of the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army...

, including Seán Treacy
Seán Treacy (Irish Republican)
Seán Treacy was one of the leaders of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. He helped to start the conflict in 1919 and was killed in a shootout with British troops in Talbot Street, Dublin during an aborted British Secret Service...

, Seamus Robinson, Seán Hogan
Seán Hogan
Seán Hogan was one of the leaders of the 3rd Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence.-Soloheadbeg:...

, Paddy Daly
Paddy Daly
Paddy Daly sometimes referred to as Paddy O'Daly, served in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and subsequently held the rank of Major-General in the Irish National Army in the period 1922 to 1924.-Easter Rising:...

 (Leader), Joe Leonard
Joe Leonard
Joe Leonard , is a retired American motorcycle racer and racecar driver.Leonard won the first A.M.A. Grand National Championship Series in 1954 and won it again in 1956 and 1957. His record totals 27 wins, including the 1957 and 1958 Daytona 200...

, Martin Savage
Martin Savage
Volunteer Martin Savage was an Officer in the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, from Ballisodare, County Sligo....

, and Dan Breen
Dan Breen
Daniel "Dan" Breen was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years, he was a Fianna Fáil politician.-Background:...

, planned to assassinate Lord French, head of the Dublin Castle administration in Ireland
Dublin Castle administration in Ireland
The Dublin Castle administration in Ireland was the government of Ireland under English and later British rule, from the twelfth century until 1922, based at Dublin Castle.-Head:...

. An ambush was organised as he returned from a private party which he had hosted the previous evening at his country residence in Frenchpark
Frenchpark, historically known as Dungar , is a village in County Roscommon, Ireland on the N5 national primary road. It was the home of Douglas Hyde, the first President of Ireland....

, County Roscommon
County Roscommon
County Roscommon is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county...


The volunteers' intelligence operative had informed the unit that Lord French would be travelling in an armed convoy which would bring him from Ashtown railway station
Ashtown railway station
Ashtown is a commuter railway station serving Ashtown, Dublin 15 .It lies on the Dublin to Longford commuter railway route.. The station was opened by the Midland Great Western Railway in 1847 for race specials at the now demolished Phoenix Park Racecourse. It opened fully on 1 August 1902....

 to the Vice-Regal Lodge in Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is an urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 16 km perimeter wall encloses , one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the seventeenth...

, Dublin. The convoy would be comprised of an outrider and three following cars, and Lord French was to be in the second car.

Events of the day

The IRA unit gathered at Fleming's Pub in Drumcondra
Drumcondra, Dublin
Drumcondra is a residential area and inner suburb on the Northside of Dublin, Ireland. It is administered by Dublin City Council.The River Tolka and the Royal Canal flow through the area.-History:...

 but left in small groups to avoid raising suspicion as they cycled through Phibsboro
Phibsborough , often formerly shortened to Phibsboro and later Phibsboro , is a district of Dublin in Ireland.-Location:Phibsboro' is located in the Dublin 7 postal district on the Northside of the city. The area is very close to the city centre, about two kilometres from the River Liffey which...

 and up the Cabra Road
Cabra, Dublin
Cabra is a suburb on the northside of Dublin city in Ireland. It is approximately northwest of the city centre, in the administrative area of Dublin City Council. It was commonly known as Cabragh until the early 20th century.- Transport and access:...

. They regrouped at Kelly's Public House (now called the Halfway House) in Ashtown. At approximately 11:40 a.m., as the train carrying Lord French pulled into the station, the unit left the pub and took up positions along the crossroads at Ashtown.

The plan was for Martin Savage, Tom Kehoe, and Dan Breen to push a hay-cart halfway across the road. Then, after the out-rider and the first car had passed, they would push it the rest of the way across the road, thereby completely blocking the path of the remaining vehicles. As they had been informed that Lord French was to be in the second car, it would be attacked with grenades (known as Mills Bomb
Mills bomb
Mills bomb is the popular name for a series of prominent British hand grenades. They were the first modern fragmentation grenades in the world.-Overview:...

s at the time) and concentrated rifle fire.

Their plan was almost foiled as they pushed the hay-cart across the road, as a Royal Irish Constabulary
Royal Irish Constabulary
The armed Royal Irish Constabulary was Ireland's major police force for most of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. A separate civic police force, the unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police controlled the capital, and the cities of Derry and Belfast, originally with their own police...

 (RIC) officer disturbed them, telling them to move on. One of IRA men lobbed a grenade
A grenade is a small explosive device that is projected a safe distance away by its user. Soldiers called grenadiers specialize in the use of grenades. The term hand grenade refers any grenade designed to be hand thrown. Grenade Launchers are firearms designed to fire explosive projectile grenades...

 at him, although it did not explode. It struck the police officer on the head, knocking him unconscious
Unconsciousness is the condition of being not conscious—in a mental state that involves complete or near-complete lack of responsiveness to people and other environmental stimuli. Being in a comatose state or coma is a type of unconsciousness. Fainting due to a drop in blood pressure and a...

. The police officer
Police officer
A police officer is a warranted employee of a police force...

 was then dragged from the road and the attack went ahead as planned.

Lord French's car and the gun battle

When the convoy appeared minutes later, the IRA unit attacked the second car, forcing it to swerve off the road. However, unknown to the unit, Lord French was actually travelling in the first car, and managed to drive through the blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

. The occupants of the second car, part of Lord French's guard, returned fire. As the gun battle developed, the third car arrived on the other side of the cart and began firing with rifles and machine-guns on the now-exposed IRA fighters.

In the crossfire Dan Breen was shot in the leg, and seconds later Savage fell mortally wounded after being hit by a bullet in the neck. He died in the arms of Dan Breen; his last words to Breen were, "I'm done, but carry on....". Tom Kehoe and the wounded Dan Breen carried Savage's body from the road and back to Kelly’s Pub while the gunfight continued.

Two Dublin Metropolitan Police
Dublin Metropolitan Police
The Dublin Metropolitan Police was the police force of Dublin, Ireland, from 1836 to 1925, when it amalgamated into the new Garda Síochána.-19th century:...

 officers were also wounded in the gun battle. At this point the British military, including some wounded, began to withdraw from the scene and continued on towards Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park is an urban park in Dublin, Ireland, lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 16 km perimeter wall encloses , one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the seventeenth...

. Realising that reinforcements would be on their way, the IRA unit then dispersed to safehouses in the Dublin area. Dan Breen was helped onto his bike by Paddy Daly
Paddy Daly
Paddy Daly sometimes referred to as Paddy O'Daly, served in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and subsequently held the rank of Major-General in the Irish National Army in the period 1922 to 1924.-Easter Rising:...

, who helped him to a safehouse in the Phibsboro area, where he was attended to by the captain of the Dublin hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

 team, Dr J.M. Ryan.

Later career

French was President of The Ypres League
The Ypres League
The Ypres League was a British World War I veterans and remembrance society. It was founded on 28 September 1920 to act as a brotherhood for veterans of the battles of the Ypres Salient, to remember those who died there, and to aid pilgrims traveling to the battlefields. It later became an...

, a veterans society for those who had served at the Ypres Salient
Ypres Salient
The Ypres Salient is the area around Ypres in Belgium which was the scene of some of the biggest battles in World War I.In military terms, a salient is a battlefield feature that projects into enemy territory. Therefore, the salient is surrounded by the enemy on three sides, making the troops...

. He retired from the military in April 1921, and in May 1922 he was elevated to the Earldom of Ypres
Earl of Ypres
Earl of Ypres was a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1922 for Field Marshal John French, 1st Viscount French. He was Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1912 to 1914, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War from 1914 to 1915 and...

. French died on 22 May 1925, aged 72. A funeral parade was held for him in London, after which his body was cremated and his ashes buried in his native Ripple.


  • Midshipman (1868)
  • Lieutenant (1874)
  • Captain (October 1880)
  • Colonel (August 1895)
  • Brigadier-General (1897)
  • Major-General (1899)
  • Lieutenant-General (August 1902)
  • General (February 1907)
  • Field Marshal (3 June 1913)

Controversy after death

In 1972 the ownership of French's war diaries was disputed following the bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

 of the 3rd Earl of Ypres.

See also

  • Army Manoeuvres of 1913
    Army Manoeuvres of 1913
    The Army Manoeuvres of 1913 was a large exercise in the Midlands in September 1913. Learning from the Army Manoeuvres of 1912, many more spotter aircraft were used...

  • Christmas truce
    Christmas truce
    Christmas truce was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front around Christmas of 1914, during the First World War...

  • Gheluvelt Park
    Gheluvelt Park
    Gheluvelt Park is a public park in Worcester, England.The park was opened on the 17 June 1922 to commemorate the Worcestershire Regiment's 2nd Battalion after their part in Battle of Gheluvelt, a World War I battle that took place on 31 October 1914 in Gheluvelt , Belgium...

     – a public park in Worcester, which he opened on 17 June 1922
  • Saint George's Memorial Church, Ypres
    Saint George's Memorial Church, Ypres
    Saint George's Memorial Church, Ypres, Belgium, was built to commemorate over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops, who had died in the three battles fought for the Ypres Salient, during World War I....

Books by French

  • Report of General Sir John French upon his inspection of the Canadian Military Forces. Ottawa, 1910.
  • The despatches of Sir John French: I Mons, II the Marne, III The Aisne, IV Flanders. London: Chapman & Hall, 1914.
  • The despatches of Lord French...And a complete list of the officers and men mentioned. London: Chapman & Hall, 1917.
  • The German and small nations: an interview with Lord French. London: J J Keliher & Co, 1917.
  • 1914. London: Constable & Co, 1919.
  • Some war diaries, addresses and correspondence. Ed. Maj The Hon Edward Gerald French (son). London: Herbert Jenkins, 1937.

Other books

  • Cassar, George H. The Tragedy of Sir John French. University of Delaware Press, 1985, ISBN 0-87413-241-X.
  • Chisholm, Cecil. Sir John French: an authentic biography. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1915. — (Also available from Project Gutenberg)
  • Clark, Alan
    Alan Clark
    Alan Kenneth Mackenzie Clark was a British Conservative MP and diarist. He served as a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher's governments at the Departments of Employment, Trade, and Defence, and became a privy counsellor in 1991...

    . The Donkeys: a History of the BEF in 1915. Hutchison and Co, 1961. (A scathing attack on the military competence, intelligence, and character of John French.)
  • De Groot, Gerard. Douglas Haig 1861–1928. Larkfield, Maidstone: Unwin Hyman, 1988.
  • Dodsworth, Francis. Major General J D P French. London: Soldiers of the Queen Library, 1900.
  • French, Edward Gerald (son). The Life of Field Marshal Sir John French, First Earl of Ypres. London: Cassell & Co, 1931.
  • French, Edward Gerald (son). French replies to Haig. London: Hutchinson & Co, 1936.
  • French, Edward Gerald (son). The Kitchener-French dispute: a last word. Glasgow: William Maclellan, 1960.
  • Holmes, Richard. The Little Field Marshal: A Life of Sir John French. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004, ISBN 0-297-84614-0 — (A well-received modern biography).
  • Jerrold, Walter Copeland. Field Marshal Sir John French: the story of his life and battles. London: W A Hammond, 1915.
  • Maydon, John George. French's Cavalry campaign in South Africa. London: C A Pearson, 1901.
  • Napier, Robert M. Sir John French and Sir John Jellicoe: their lives and careers. London: Patriotic Publishing Co, 1914.
  • Neillands, Robin. The Death of Glory: the Western Front 1915. London: John Murray, 2006, ISBN 978-0719562457.
  • Rae, Archibald. General French and Admiral Jellicoe. London: Collins, 1914.
  • Tuchman, Barbara. The Guns of August
    The Guns of August
    The Guns of August, also published as August 1914 , is a military history book written by Barbara Tuchman. It primarily describes in great detail the events of the first month of World War I, which for most of the great powers involved in the war was August 1914...

    . Random House, 1962. (A history of the first month of World War I; Sir John French is depicted as being incompetent, in a panic, and in continual retreat.)
  • Wallace, Richard Horatio Edgar. Field Marshal Sir John French and his campaign. London: George Newnes, 1914.
  • Wallace, Richard Horatio Edgar. The standard history of the war, comprising the official despatches from General French and staff, with descriptive narrative. 4 vols. London: George Newnes, 1914–1915.

French in popular culture

  • Field Marshal French was played by Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

     in Richard Attenborough
    Richard Attenborough
    Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough , CBE is a British actor, director, producer and entrepreneur. As director and producer he won two Academy Awards for the 1982 film Gandhi...

    's World War I satire film Oh! What A Lovely War
    Oh! What a Lovely War
    Oh! What a Lovely War is a musical film based on the stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War! originated by Charles Chilton as a radio play, The Long Long Trail in December 1961, and transferred to stage by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop created in 1963,...


External links


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